As I sit here with pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard) I’m hit with the fact, like most, I haven’t taken the time to truly appreciate our little bit of paradise we call home. Like many of you reading this, we travel the world and learn the history, nature, wildlife and so much more of these beautiful foreign countries but haven’t taken a minute to take a look in our own backyards. So here I am, stepping out my back door and having a look to see what Fiordland has to offer.
I don’t have to go far before I stumble across the majestic Lake Manapouri. Lake Te Anau’s smaller, but underrated little cousin. Lake Manapouri was formed by glaciers and is New Zealand’s second deepest lake. It has four arms, cleverly named North, South, West and Hope arm.
Day after day I drive past Lake Manapouri on my way home from work. I’d look out at the Mountain range and think to myself how beautiful it is as I proceed on autopilot through the small township of Manapouri towards home. Until one day, the sun was setting and I just happened to have my camera in the car so I drove down to the water’s edge and immediately felt guilty for never taking the time to stop before that day.
Now I bundle up the fam, including Sam (the handsome Golden Retriever) into the truck, throw in a few packed lunches and head down to Frasers Beach for a swim. If you’ve got time to spare, take a look!
How do you find this stunning place?
It’s only a 20km drive from Te Anau, just a stone’s throw away so why not jump in the car? Or you could jump on your bike?! The Trails Trust Fiordland has done an awesome job constructing what will be a 28km mountain bike track from Te Anau to Manapouri. At this stage it only runs 19km alongside Lake Te Anau and the East side of the Waiau river towards Lake Manapouri. Keep an eye out. Once this track is complete, getting from Te Anau to Manapouri and vice versa will be an enchanting experience you won’t want to miss! One of these days I’ll jump on my bike and let you guys know how truly amazing it is.
If you’re really keen and don’t mind transport by foot, join the Kepler Track from the Control gates in Te Anau and follow your nose to Rainbow Reach. You will walk through a gorgeous beech forest and some manuka shrubland until you come to a swing bridge to cross over the Waiau River where you will arrive at Rainbow Reach. This should take around 2.5 hours. Keep those feet moving one in front of the other for another 1.5 hours to Moturau hut (the last hut on the Kepler track) just past the stunning Shallow Bay of Lake Manapouri. Don’t worry, during the busy summer period you can arrange to catch a shuttle back to Te Anau from Rainbow Reach. It’s a lengthy walk so make sure those boots are worn in and you have plenty of insect repellent on you! Make sure you check the weather before you go and pack warm clothes and rain jackets just in case. The weather down here can change in a second!
Now that we’ve determined how to get there, I bet you’re pondering what there is to do?
- As many will know, it’s the gateway to Doubtful Sound. Join a Real Journeys tour and check out the lake by boat before ascending then descending the Wilmot Pass before arriving in Doubtful. Doubtful Sound is a whopping 10 times the size of Milford Sound and really s worth a visit.
- For those who haven’t already walked from Te Anau, there are plenty of short walks you can do from Manapouri township. Ask a local or stop in at any store, they’ll point you in the right direction.
- ack your swimwear! The water can be blimin’ cold so it might pay to wait until a hot summers day before you take a dip but it’s refreshing and will leave you feeling 10 years younger.
- If you’re looking for something a bit more laid back, grab a bite or a coffee, take it down to Frasers Beach and watch the water lap the shore. Trust me, it’s not a bad way to spend a few hours… or the whole day!!